Donegal 1-14 Armagh 1-13
Armagh finished their Division One National League campaign with a loss away to Donegal on Sunday afternoon.
This was just the dress rehearsal for the real stuff coming up in the next few weeks. With Armagh’s status secured, the loss wasn’t of much concern and Kieran McGeeney decided to mix things up.
Rian O’Neill and Rory Grugan were only introduced at half time. Newbies Cian McConville and Justin Kieran made their first senior appearances.
Donegal needed the points more than their guests and they secured the win which kept them in the topflight for another season.
The hosts made a great start and Jason McGee’s goal 10 minutes in fired Declan Bonner’s men 1-4 to 0-2 ahead. Jason Duffy (mark) and Aidan Nugent opening Armagh’s account.
Jamie Brennan (2), Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty (free) all raised early white flags for Donegal.
Nugent and McBrearty cancelled each other out before Armagh shot back into the game with a goal.
Tiernan Kelly squared the ball for the waiting Nugent, who palmed home to cut the deficit to three.
Murphy and McBrearty kept Donegal on top and Donegal carried a five-point lead into the break. 1-10 to 1-5.
Grugan made an immediate impact when introduced with a score. But the deadly duo of Murphy and McBrearty pushed the Tir Chonaill men further in front.
Nugent (3), Murnin and O’Neill all pointed to narrow the gap to just one. Donegal doubled their advantage through McBrearty in the final quarter.
Two from O’Neill, including a 45, tied the game for the very first time and it looked like Armagh could steal a point.
It wasn’t to be however as McBrearty chipped over his 7th of the day and ensured a Donegal victory.
The sides got to know each other a bit better after the final whistle, when a melee broke out and there could be repercussions coming down the line.
A loss in the final round isn’t the end of the world for Armagh as the fought back bravely in the second half.
It’s only weeks until these two meet in the championship and that’s sure to be every bit as exciting.